Cement parking stop damaged my car...

by Wellington
(Tamarac, Florida)

I parked my car in the parking lot at a Commercial Plaza. The steel rebar posts were sticking out the top of the cement parking stop. When I was preparing to leave and started to back out, the rebar caught my right front bumper, damaging it underneath my vehicle.

Looking around the parking lot, I saw that my parking stop was the only one with one steel rebar sticking out the top. It protruded about 2 inches above the cement top. Is the liability for my property damage solely mine for not seeing it, or do the owners of the lot have some responsibility?

I talked with the property management, and they told me they are not responsible for repairing my vehicle. Can I sue them for damages to my vehicle? I appreciate your response.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Cement parking stop damaged my car...":

Wellington (Tamarac, Florida):

While there are several legal considerations, it's likely the property owner is liable for the damage to your car.

A property owner has a legal duty of care to do everything within reason to protect those who are upon his or her property from dangerous conditions. If the property owner fails to meet his or her duty of care, the owner may be held liable for any injuries AND property damage sustained by persons legally upon the property. This is especially true as it applies to Invitees.

Those who enter onto property for the purpose of doing business with the owner, or with businesses upon the property, are referred to as "Invitees."

In the State of Florida, an invitee who is injured or who sustains property damage may hold a property owner liable for injuries if:

- The property owner knows or should know a condition exists on the property which poses an unreasonable risk of danger to invitees and their personal property

- The property owner knows or should know invitees either won’t recognize the risk or will underestimate it

- The property owner did not use ordinary care either to reduce, repair, or eliminate the potential for harm, or to take reasonable measures to warn invitees about the risk

It is likely the property owner knew, or should have known that piece of rebar was protruding from the ground, and that protrusion was likely to cause injuries or property damage. In this case, the rebar didn't suddenly appear. It must have been there for some time.

If the property owner continues to refuse to compensate you for the damage to your car, you can consider filing a lawsuit against the owner in one of Florida's Small Claims Courts.

In the State of Florida, small claims courts hear cases up to $5,000. Before filing suit, be sure to take photographs of the protruding rebar. This will be especially helpful when the court realizes even after the property owner knew your car was damaged, the owner still took no action to repair or remove the risk.

Get more information about filing a small claims lawsuit in Florida here.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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